D.T. Pennington

Writer – Photographer – Creative Coach

I Am Bad at Sharing Ideas

I came across On Idea Hoarding. Damnit, it’s me.

Stop hoarding your best ideas.

Just put them out there, immediately.

This isn’t a new problem, I just have horrible ways of coping with it.

Early on, I had a notebook that I would keep in addition to all of the other notebooks to jot down “that random idea” so that I wouldn’t get distracted by it. Theoretically, I would go through the random notebook and cultivate the ideas to fruition. Notebook turned into notebooks and now there is a shelf in the closet where they all sit, collecting dust, doing a whole lot of nothing.

But it was real important I take those thoughts down. They have to go somewhere. They will carry me to the stars – assuming I ever open the closet door again.

In the days of The Abyss – a coaching product I ran with a handful of folks – I was adamant about getting my clients to write stuff down. The ideas they most likely needed weren’t going to be directly related to whatever their project or company happened to focus on. There is that bullshit idea floating around out there about how the most valuable real estate in the world is a graveyard as it is full of the brains of ideas that never saw fruition.

What gets in the way of sharing ideas:

When I share ideas to social media, I immediately feel the pressure that the ideas is good or bad based on what kind of response it gets. Of course, this is a terrible, bullshit way of thinking. Nothing good ever comes from social metrics.

Theft? Sure. I have an irrational fear of someone stealing my ideas even though it has never happened. Can someone just copy an idea and walk it all the way to the bank? Probably not. With any new concept, there is a ton of context that is never tangibly stated. If the idea is the present, the thief is missing the historical context and future aspiration.

I’ve likely stolen far more ideas than will ever get stolen from me. I guess I’m winning. It’s never a wholesale theft. Rather, it is going through a museum or scrapyard and seeing what I can use in my own work.

Books are made of other books, claims Cormac McCarthy – a quote I plucked out of one of Austin Kleon’s books. The universe is just a mess of concepts on a permanent collision course.

My ideas are dumb. Or, rather, ideas are only as bright as the people they are presented to. I know I hamstring myself by insisting that everything I produce needs to be a 2000-word, decently-researched tom that will sit in my drafts folder for weeks.

There is always a layer of new ideas. They show up with the vigor and energy that lapses the older ideas. Shiny new thing! New ideas get the time and attention that the older ideas probably needed.

Why does it feel like no one else has this problem?

I already collect notes. Loads of them, about everything, from all over the place in a mess of mediums. These notes only gain the richness I’m after when I take time to write on them. I also want to get perpetually better at creating (and keeping!) the digital archives for the stuff I am thinking about and working on.

The Plan For The Time Being:

All new ideas will live in an ongoing, evergreen post. As I come up with them, I will leave them in the raw on the published page. As things mature and the idea gets its own legs, I’ll link it to whatever I end up publishing about that thing.

The idea is to leave limp, half-baked ideas out in the open. Maybe this will motivate me to keep returning to old ideas. Maybe the new ideas will be closer to enriching a previous concept. Maybe it will show you how much stuff realistically makes it to the finish line.

Maybe it will be a huge waste of time.

Only one way to find out.